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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cleanup Operations

If you haven't already figured out already I often repair/investigate devices (for myself as well as on behalf of others) in my spare time. I was recently given an Acer Aspire One 531h, a Acer Aspire 1671 as well as a laptop that was running Vista in a foreign language. Let's start with the easy stuff. Language packs are easily handled via the following. Please note that while this may handle most dialogue within the operating system itself it doesn't deal with installed programs such as utilities, security, and other software.


The Aspire One and 1671 were much more difficult propositions. It was clear that they had previously been opened and were mis-diagnosed or had strange fixes applied to them. The 1671 was shutting down a few seconds after boot or would only boot when the battery had been charged for a little while. While opening it up:
- plastic pieces fell off after they had previously been broken and were inadequately put back (super/expoxy glue can work but is harder to use when dealing with thin plastics)
- there was glue where it shouldn't have been (super glue debonder helps here)
- the CPU wasn't locked down properly (there's a screw/lever mechanism for locking it in place normaly)
- it was clear that several screws were misplaced
- there were globs of heatsink compound everywhere, and so on...
It's clear that the previous person thought that the problem was entirely down to heat. By running a multimeter over the terminals of the DC jack it was clear that this wasn't the case though. The inner pin of the DC jack was losing contact with the mainboard which meant that only a trickle of charge was reaching the system with the result being unable to start the system or only being able to start it with an adequately charged battery (Unsurprisingly, it also had other issues such as a pirated version of Windows). On top of this, the trackpad seemed to be disabled by defaut after software re-installation?


Like the 1671, the One had many problems (the primary issue was the that no charge was reaching the system though):
- there was a break in the cable on the old AC adapter when you bent it. It also seemed to be a poorly made replacement (Lite-On branded but reviews seem to be poor on Amazon with similar problems reported, http://www.daniweb.com/hardware-and-software/pc-hardware/usb-devices-and-other-peripherals/threads/25588/synaptics-touchpad-suddenly-stopped-working) with the plug being slightly too large for the socket. Jigglng the plug made it work but it also exacerbated the problem with the DC jack. You were basically covering one problem with another and dismounting the pin in the DC jack (you can choose to either re-solder or replace)
- cable between mainboard and front LED lights had worn out contacts ('mended' by trimming a bit off the tip)
- there was a break in the connection between the internal wireless card and the attenna (re-soldered)
- the centre point on the DC jack was not connected properly to the mainboard (re-soldered)
- there was a break in the plastic on the right side panel (glue)
- numerous screws were misplaced (guess-timation)
- two charging pins to the battery were mis-aligned (bent back to shape)
- there was a massive break in an internal cable between the power switch and the mainboard (Alternatively, you can turn it on by shorting pins 2/3 of the relevant connector on the mainboard). After seeing the cost of the cable online and comparing it with the cost of device itself I half thought about (drilling holes or just swapping the switch for another existing port such as USB, Ethernet, etc... I've done it with phones before though but have 'sculpted' the switch rather than the case most of the time) using a small microswitch but obviously the solution wouldn't be elegant, light on power button wouldn't be perfect, etc...



No Dependency Debian Packages, Random Stuff, and More

- come across issues with packages on Debian from time to time. Came up with a following script which basically strips dependency checking ...